Actress Naya Rivera, known for her role on “Glee,” is believed to have drowned in “what appears to be a tragic accident” while boating with her son on a California lake, authorities said Thursday. Rivera was reported missing Wednesday, when her 4-year-old son was found on a pontoon boat by himself.
Sergeant Kevin Donoghue said in a news conference Thursday that Rivera and her son rented a boat to take out on Lake Piru in Los Padres National Forest at approximately 1 p.m. local time. The rental was supposed to last for three hours — and when the pair had not returned by 4:30 p.m., workers went out to search for them, Donoghue said.
The boy told authorities that he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, and said he got back in the boat but his mother did not, according to a report from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
Video footage showed that Rivera and her son were the only people to board the boat, Donoghue said. The boy “gave enough information to investigators to conclude that his mother never made it out of the water,” although Donoghue did not specify exactly what the boy said.
Officials said they searched the lake for five hours on Wednesday night and continued Thursday, but have not found Rivera. Approximately 100 people are involved in the search. The report cited low visibility in the lake, and said the operation has been “a very slow process.”
The search is now being treated as a recovery mission, the office said in the report.
Rivera’s former “Glee” co-stars reacted to the news of her disappearance on social media. Actor Harry Shum on Wednesday night wrote, “Praying.” Actor Damian McGinty tweeted: “Sick to my stomach. Please pray.”
Actress Heather Morris wrote about Rivera on Instagram: “We need all the prayers we can get to bring our Naya back home to us. We need your love and light.”
Demi Lovato, who guest-starred on the show’s fifth season, wrote: “Please pray for @nayarivera to be found safe and sound.”
Rivera, who portrayed cheerleader Santana Lopez on “Glee,” was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 as part of the cast who sang a rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.'” She also won several ALMA awards, a People’s Choice Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, according to IMDB.
Days before she went missing, Rivera posted on Instagram about making the most of every day: “No matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you’re alive is a blessing. make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised.”